If You Want To Read People Better, These 7 Things Are Key
A great skill to have is knowing how to read people. It can help you figure out if someone's genuine or not during a first date, and it can also help you get a feel for whether or not a job interview is going well. Knowing how to read people is a skill that can help you in pretty much any aspect of your life. If you want to be good at it, experts say there are a few key things you should learn.
"There are many things that influence how well we're able to interpret the information we receive from others," licensed counselor, Willard Vaughn, MA, LPC, tells Bustle. So if you want to be "good" at reading people, it's essential to check your biases at the door.
According to Vaughn, past experiences create preconceived biases against others. But if you're mindful of it and have an open mind while interacting with others, you can read people with a little more accuracy. Consider this rule number one.
The good news is, becoming skillful at nonverbal communication is something anyone can learn and master, Wes O'Donnell, charisma coach and body language expert, tells Bustle. So here are some key things you should know if you want to master the art of reading people.
1. Situational Awareness Is Key
During conversations, many have a tendency to listen to other person's words, zone out, and then talk when it's their turn. In doing so, you miss a lot of key things the other person isn't expressing out loud. As O'Donnell says, reading people well is all about increasing your situational awareness. In other words, be very observant. "See the whole person. Watch how they talk and how they walk," he says. "You'll notice minor things that can inform you how honest they are being with you." With practice, he says a quick glance at someone can teach you "volumes of information" on their confidence level, their approachability and maybe even a window into their health.
2. A Person's Handshake Can Say A Lot About How They See You
If someone tilts your hand so that your palm is facing up, they may be trying to dominate you. "Power and control is the name of the game with the dominance handshake," O'Donnell says. "When someone has 'the upper hand' with this handshake, the non-verbal signal at work here is, 'I can get this person to do what I want.'" It's important to be aware of that.
The opposite is true for someone who extends their hand with their palm facing up. "In this case, they think you are the authority or want you to think that you are the authority," O'Donnell says. The "submissive" handshake can even be useful if someone wants to make an apology seem sincere.
3. A Person's Feet Can Tell You What They're Wanting In The Current Moment
"In social situations, most humans subconsciously point our feet toward the thing they want at that moment," O'Donnell says. It's why checking where someone's feet is pointed during a first date can clue you in to how interested they actually are. If it's towards the door, it's a good indicator to end the date early.
4. If Someone You Meet Reminds You Of Someone Else, Chances Are They Really Are Similar
"When you meet someone for the first time, and they remind you of someone else, take note," Monique Guild, founder and creator of the Intuitive Goal, tells Bustle. "Chances that they have similar characteristics is very high." This can give you a basic idea for how this person may act or react, especially if you're dealing with them for the first time.
5. People Usually Give Their True Feelings Away Within The First Second Of Receiving Information
"People often reveal their true opinion of you or the statement you make in just the first second after hearing it," Sergei Revzin, co-host of The Mentors Podcast, tells Bustle. This happens because their facial expression gives away their position before their brain can tell them to adjust it to something more neutral. For instance, a raised eyebrow usually means surprise, and smiles and frowns show approval and disapproval.
6. When People Are Speaking Truth, They Tend To Be More Relaxed
If you're trying to read someone for honesty, Jim Wasserman, media literacy instructor and author, has one general rule to follow: truth is relaxed and stands on its own, while lies need force and power to drive them. If you're looking to catch someone in a lie, pay attention to their intensity. "Loudness, diversion (ad hominems attacking doubters or 'what-abouters'), excessive justifications ('Why would I lie?'), can all be indications someone is trying to sell you a story, that they aren't confident their truthful story will convince you," Wasserman tells Bustle. People who are honest tend to be plain spoken.
7. If Someone Gives You Bad Vibes, Don't Ignore It
Reading people isn't just about being observant and taking the little things in. Master manipulators, for instance, are really good at masking their true intentions. So it's never a bad idea to trust your gut. "There's a reason you're feeling the way you are about a certain person or interaction," Vaughn says. "It may be wise to pay attention to that."
Knowing how to read people can help you out in a lot of situations. It can make your relationships stronger, it can help you successfully negotiate with others, and it can even turn you off from potentially harmful situations. The best part is, anyone can be good at it. All it takes is some practice.